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This Receptionist’s Private Tik-Tok Videos Are Too Spicy for the Boss

They’re NSFW but is it any of her employers business?




ONE SATURDAY EVENING, Dr. Stone was casually scrolling through some mind-numbing TikToks. Typically this would consist of laughing at whatever challenge is trending or viewing eyeball surgical videos. As usual, she wondered why some videos appeared in her feed, but she didn’t mind the algorithm recommending a variety of videos. Except for this one — a risqué video of a young woman twerking wearing near to nothing. Dr. Stone immediately went to swipe up but something stopped her — the wrist full of multi-colored silicone bracelets looked all too familiar.


Real Deal scenarios are inspired by true stories but are changed to sharpen the dilemmas involved and should not be confused with real people or places. Responses are peer-sourced opinions and are not a substitute for professional legal advice. Please contact your attorney if you have any questions about an employee or customer situation in your own business.


Carissa Dunphy has been working in private practice optometry since 2008 and is the founder of Optician Now ( Follow Carissa on Instagram and Facebook at @opticiannow.

Wracking her brain to try to figure out where she recalled this wrist of bracelets from, she probably watched the video 30 times. Then the unique smirk of a smile the poster signed off with finally hit her — this was Crystal, the receptionist at her practice.

Dr. Stone was puzzled, shocked, and concerned. She immediately texted her associate, Dr. Reynolds, “Hey, I’m pretty sure I just accidentally came across one of our staff members’ NSFW TikTok channel…”

“Wow, are you serious, who?” Dr. Reynolds added, “Send me a link!”

After receiving the link from Dr. Stone, Dr. Reynolds called her right away. “Um…. this video is definitely not safe for work. What if a patient recognizes her?!”


“I swear to you that I don’t watch videos like this. I’m not sure how or why this video showed up for me.” Dr. Stone continued, “Maybe it’s based on geography? I have no idea — but if it popped up for me, why wouldn’t it pop up for any of our patients in the local area?”

“It could be possible for a community member to recognize her. She is the first person you see, and the one person every patient interacts with while coming in for an appointment,” Dr. Reynolds responded.

Dr. Stone replied, “Well, what the heck can we even do about it?! She’s not our child to reprimand, but she does work in a small town in a professional medical office.”

“That is true.” Dr. Reynolds added, “I’m just shocked to see her in this light!”

“Well, I know we certainly do not mention anything of this nature in our employee manual — or if we can, for that matter.” Dr. Stone continued, “How about I call my brother — he has a practice in Wisconsin — I’ll get his take on all of this and see if he’s ever had anything similar happen.”

“That’s a good idea!” Dr. Reynolds suggested, “I’m going to see if there’s anything relevant in the private OD social groups. If there’s not, I can ask anonymously.”

Dr. Stone replied, “Sounds good — we can reconvene on Monday morning at the office.”

“I think this is one of those unpredictable moments owning a business that you can never plan for,” Dr. Reynolds said.

“Just another speed bump that we’ll get over,” Dr. Stone agreed.


The Big Questions

  • How do you decide how and where to draw the line for employees’ behavior on their personal social media accounts?
  • Is this something that you even can draw a line about?
  • What would you do if a customer mentioned seeing an employee on social media in what they considered an unprofessional manner?


Jeff G.
Spring Valley, CA

It’s my private life. MYOB! You may be embarrassed but that’s too bad. If it doesn’t have your place of employment attached to the video then you have no say in a person’s private life. If we started firing people based on TikTok there’d be a lot of unemployment.

Pablo M.
Atlanta, GA

I am all for letting people do whatever they want to do in their private life; but in this case, private life has become public and therefore it has to be addressed. This practice is now running the risk of being recognized (and remembered) for having the employee with “that” online video. Furthermore, it can attract the worst kind of attention from individuals that cannot differentiate between personal and professional environments. This employee has now sadly become a liability for that office. At the very least this employee needs to come up with a plan so her private actions do not impact the office, or she needs to find another job.

Travis C.
Salt Lake City, UT

This is not an issue at all and no business of the employers. Every person has the right to express themselves as they wish. If a customer has problems with this, they too are reaching far outside of their privilege and invading the personal rights of this employee.

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